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You also need to decide what your commitment to riding really is.  They make all kinds of bikes now, and they seem to get more specialized everytime I pick up a magazine.  

If you and the wife want to get out on bike paths for a leisurely ride once or twice a week, they make bikes just for that.

If you want to get out and go fast on the road, they have bikes for that.

And if you want to get out into the mountains, there's all kinds of choices too.

I got serious about a year ago and jumped right in on a fairly high end full suspension mt bike, shoes and Camelback.  But I knew I'd be riding at least 60 miles a week once I started, so the investment was justified.  Shops actually tried to talk me into lower end stuff since I was 'new'.  

If you want a generic do-it-all, I'd definately recommend a low end mt bike from Specialized, Giant, or any of the big names.  Try to get as many name brand (especially Shimano)parts on the bike as possible. They'll ride nice and last a long time.
 

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Budget? Hours per week spent riding? Race possibilities?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I have been thinking a road bike, but maybe I should be flexible w/ this.  I am looking for an alternative to running for exercise.  I see myself on the road more than trail.  

Races?  Probably not, but I think it would be cool to do a du, or triathalon.  Maybe I should learn how to swim before I do that....

I'm thinking 2-3 days a week when the weather is good.  Possibly 8 hours (not sure how many miles) a week or so.  That would be a good week probably.
 

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If you plan on riding both mountain and road - not too serious on either - maybe you should consider a mid-range mt bike with a set of slick road tires and a set of knobbies... easy to switch between the two and the road won't chew up your knobbies.
 

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BizJetGuy : If you plan on riding both mountain and road - not too serious on either - maybe you should consider a mid-range mt bike with a set of slick road tires and a set of knobbies... easy to switch between the two and the road won't chew up your knobbies.
I'd probably get a hard tail if I was you, you get better components for the money, and you don't seem like you need or even want rear suspension(it sucks on the road).
 

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Good point, LTL.  The hard tail will be lighter, too

And HD - please do yourself a favor and visit a good LBS (local bike shop)... stay away from buying a bike from Galyan's, Dick's, Sports Authority, etc.  A good bike shop will help you choose the right bike and won't try to up-sale everything.  The bike will be properly prepared, as well, and if there are any problems with the bike after the sale, they will usually fix them no-questions-asked.  Shop around for bike shops, not just bikes.
 

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Heavy-Dee : Well I have been thinking a road bike, but maybe I should be flexible w/ this.  I am looking for an alternative to running for exercise.  I see myself on the road more than trail.  

Races?  Probably not, but I think it would be cool to do a du, or triathalon.  Maybe I should learn how to swim before I do that....

I'm thinking 2-3 days a week when the weather is good.  Possibly 8 hours (not sure how many miles) a week or so.  That would be a good week probably.
I agree with all of the above posts. A couple of years ago I trained for, and completed an Olympic-distance triathlon. Since then I decided to focus more on biking and less on swimming and running (which I never really enjoyed anyway). I ride 3-4 times a week alternating between my road & mountain bikes just to keep it interesting. In the winter I have a stationary liquid trainer I use with the road bike so I don't go nuts from inactivity.

You can get some pretty good components for the money if you shop around and find a bike shop that will help fit you to the right bike for your intended use and frequency.

If you buy cheap, heavy crap it'll probably wind up sitting in your garage because it's just not as much fun to push around as something a little better. You don't have to spend a fortune, but I wouldn't go too cheap either.

Mountain bikes tend to give you a more comfortable riding position and they are more durable if you're going to be rough on them. Road bikes are lighter, faster, but not as versatile or durable. Sort of like the difference between a CBR 954 and an XR400.
 

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Do you see lots of street riders out on the road where you live? If not, you should reconsider getting a road bike. IMO, they're more dangerous than motorcycles, because you're less visible, and don't have the power/speed to get out of trouble's way; around here, you couldn't pay me to ride a bicycle on the street. Maybe getting a hybrid for paved/hard trails, or a mtn bike would be better...
 

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BizJetGuy : If you plan on riding both mountain and road - not too serious on either - maybe you should consider a mid-range mt bike with a set of slick road tires and a set of knobbies... easy to switch between the two and the road won't chew up your knobbies.
I am a fan of road bikes with flat bars and decent tire clearance on the fork and seatstays. You can always put 35mm diameter cyclocross tires on if you want to ride on a trail. Trek, Fuji,and Specialized, all have decent offerings in the entry market. The Fuji has rockin' good looks and can be had for $600, and the Trek 1000 with the flat bar will run you five bills and change. I commuted by mountain bike for four years before I got my first road bike. It was then that I realized, suspension, especially nowadays, is serious overkill for 90% of its users. Don't forget, with suspension comes maintenance.

As an aside, 8 hours is a lot to plan on, especially in 2-3 days a week. It's hard to carve that time out, especially as the days get shorter. You'd be better off doing four one hour rides during a week rather than two four hour rides on Saturday and Sunday.

Maybe try commuting to work (I lost forty pounds over the course of a year doing that...). Keep some cash for things like a helmet, rain gear, and whatever other gadgets and gizmos you might need. You will wear out chains and cassettes (gears on the rear wheels) and cables will rust long before you wear out the shifting components, if you ride reasonably (which means not hamfisted).

I put 22000 miles on a set of shimano 105 shifters (circa 1997) which are reasonably comparable to the bottom end of the shifter market nowadays. Trigger shifters are basically indestructible on a road bike, and if you wear them out, they are cheaper to replace.

Whatever you do, don't let the salespeople sell you a hybrid (sometimes called a 'Comfort' bike). Worst of all possibilities

EDIT: Trek Fuji and Specialized are three different links
 

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Everyone is giving good advice here. I think a lower end (but not cheap&#33 hardtail mtn. bike would be a good starter bike. At least until you are sure whether or not you want to stick with cycling. If you do end up getting a road bike and have not biked regularly already, prepare for a sore butt and possibly sore neck after your first ride or three. But don't let this dissuade you, the body adapts pretty rapidly and this soreness will cease to happen. Good luck with your decision, and keep us posted!
 

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Heavy-Dee. Glad you were kidding about a 'trialthon' for just 25 miles south of me is the small city of Penticton, B.C. Cdn where the ONLY Iron Man Trailthon he held. I see the bikers from early Spring to late Autumn pumping the cranks all they can & often they are some 50 plus miles or more out of town in these twisty up & down mtn roads. Jogging for miles & miles along with swiming for hrs. Yet all some want is to be able to finish around half way rather then a DNF & in the hospital to recover.
The bikes are state of the art road racing bicycles costing a ruddy mint.
Of interest these are some of the most POLITE & dedicated cyclists one could possibly meet.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you very much for everyone's advice. I will do my best to take it to heart. The catch here is that whatever I spend, I need to double as the wife wants one as well.

As far as triathalons go: It is just something I am kicking around, and it would have to be on a small scale. I'm no elite athlete by any stretch.
 

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20 miles is really not a big deal if you ride enough to build up a good base. You should be able to get to the point where you could ride 20 miles in a little over an hour. 'Course that's if your route has virtually no stops (stop signs, traffic signals, etc.) Seeing as you live in a large town that's probably not the case. At any rate, get a bicycle and give it a go - it is much, much more rewarding than jogging IMHO.
 

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I like the advice of getting some cyclocross tires, or wheels would be even better. If you get a mountain bike and devote it to street you will be hurting yourself unnecessarily. I commuted on my mountain bike for a year and hated it. Only reason I did it was so that my 3000 dollar street bike wouldn't get stolen outside my work. If you did back to back street rides on a mountain bike (slicks or not) and then a road bike you would never touch the mountain bike again....at least for street rides. It's way faster. If you are still unsure whether you want to ride at all, go buy some used bike and try it out for a month or two. Then go either dirt or street but no hybrids. Those suck at both.

20 miles each way is too much. You will have a hard time motivating yourself to get on the bike after work with an hour long ride ahead of you. Stick to one ride a day.

-Shrub
 

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You could try this (Bikeride.com classified ads), but I'd seriously recommend at least visiting your local bike shop to figure out your frame size and see what's comfortable. (You think the 929's seat is bad? Try a road bike for 20+ miles! ) You can really make a mistake by buying a bicycle that doesn't fit you properly. Knee, back, wrist problems...

20 miles really is no big thing. You can build up to it fairly easily. If the bridges over the canal between my house and work (the Chesapeake/Delaware) had shoulders I could ride on, I'd ride the ~25 miles to work with pleasure. Of course, these days, it's raining too much!

Good luck, and have fun with it!
 
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